The Tabata Revolution Explained: What, Why, and How to Tabata

Tabata is a unique form of high-intensity interval-type cardiovascular exercise based on research completed by the Japanese researcher Izumi Tabata, PhD, MD, in the mid-1990s.

This form of training can exceptionally boost fat loss, increase the production of human growth hormone and improve insulin sensitivity without any loss in muscle mass. And together with warm-up and cool-down, the original protocol takes a total of 16 minutes to complete, which makes it very popular among people who don’t enjoy performing cardio or don’t have a lot of time for it in their existing training routine.

It’s pretty much undeniable that the Tabata protocol offers maximum benefits with the least amount of time that can be used to get them.

Interval training is nothing new, but the Tabata protocol adds new benefits to the mix – it targets the fast-twitch muscle fibers better than any other type of training. Also, intense exercise raises our metabolic rate to about 15 times the basal metabolic rate or BMR.

When you perform it regularly, the body increases the amount of energy it burns while at rest as well, allowing for greater fat loss all throughout the day. Dr. Tabata’s study found that using this methods five days a week for six weeks produced a 14% increase in the aerobic capacity and a 28% increase in the anaerobic capacity of the participants, resulting with a significant improvement in stamina.

This form of exercising can be used with equal success for both fat loss goals and strength and mass gains. The list of exercises that you can use is virtually endless, including burpees, sit-ups, pull-ups, push-ups, squats, crunches, bicep curls, triceps dips, sprints, shoulder presses, flys, leg raises, calf raises, bench presses and deadlifts.

The important part is to make sure you do 20 seconds of each exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest until you complete a whole cycle, and then repeat it for a total of eight times. This is the standard form, but once you master it you can add your own variations.

You can start the Tabata training with this common routine:

  1. Push-ups – 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest
  2. Squats – 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest
  3. Sprints – 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest
  4. Jumping rope – 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest
  5. Repeat the cycle for seven more times

This routine should take around 16 minutes to complete. The 20-second intervals may seem easy at first, but if you employ your maximum capacity at each (which is the point of the exercise), they will prove hard enough to effectively fatigue your muscles. The Tabata protocol will increase your endurance, teach your body to tolerate lactic acid and keep your metabolism high all day long, which makes it one of the best training routines with complete fitness benefits.

Recommended frequency of training

Needless to say, this protocol is very demanding and is not suitable for beginners who are not used to high-intensity exercise. The standard recommendation is to perform two Tabata workouts per weak after an adequate warm-up routine. The people who find it too intense would benefit from longer warm-ups and gradually working their way up to a higher intensity and longer duration. It’s expected to feel extreme muscle soreness at the beginning, but after a few weeks of training your body will adjust properly and the soreness will diminish significantly. Not to mention, you’ll burning a ton of fat!

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